x-posted on our family blog.
We are a Sci-Fi loving home and no Sci-Fi loving home is complete without Doctor Who. Tonight, Christmas night, my husband and I cuddled up on the couch to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special which aired for the first time in the states on Christmas night instead of months into the next year. This episode, being the Christmas Special and all, came with a Christmas message. I could go into it all but that's not the point of this post. In the beginning of the episode the narrator, who most of us know as Dumbledore, sums up the reason behind the joyful Christmas/winter season- about this time of year we all get together and say "Well done, everyone, we're halfway out of the dark!"
My family celebrates both the Winter Solstice and, later, Christmas as Christ's birth* among other Christian and seasonal holidays (or holy days). Over the past few years I have pondered the meaning of this time of the year both from a Christian point of view and a Pagan point of view. I don't think it's any surprise that the symbolism found in both Christmas and the Winter Solstice observances are very similar; after all our Christian ancestors stole many Pagan holidays and made them their own. I do think that the underlying message of both is a universal one- hope.
The light is returning.
We are halfway out of the dark.
In times long gone, and maybe even not so far in the past, the winter was a hard time of the year to make it through. The cold was overbearing because the sun seemed to retreat and food was scarce because the earth lay barren. The light, the warmth, was needed in order to bring life in the form of plants and animals and that life was needed to sustain our lives.
No light of thine can raise our fallen sun,
And we are dead, because his light is gone.
Thy light as well must dim for want of breath,
Yet enter: share our darkness, and our death.
In the winter in most parts of the world our ancestors sat waiting for the return of the sun, of the light, to save them from the barren cold and darkness. Return they knew it would.
The sun is living still! Nor did he die:
His strength is only hidden from this sky,
But where I watch, from Sirius' flame,
I see him burning evermore the same.
None die but thee, and only by thy will
Can autumn wound and bitter winter kill.
I bring thee vision, fire, and this word:
That from his ashes, like a wakened bird,
Shall sun leap upward, bearing on his wings
The hue of every earthly bird that sings.
Last night on Christmas Eve with our house smelling of the frankincense and myrrh burning in my cauldron by the Nativity, our family gathered in the living room, turned off all of the lights (except the Christmas tree's) and lit as many candles as we own in the room bringing light into the darkness. We then read Luke chapter 2 and emphasized Christ as the "light of the world". We related his birth, the coming of the light, to the rebirth of the sun on the Solstice just days earlier. He came to us just as the sun- as guide, as sustainer, as saviour.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Regardless of what we observe and celebrate this time of year our blood sings as the Earth sings: Well done, everyone, we're halfway out of the dark!
Blessed season to one and all and an added Merry Christmas to fellow followers of Christ!
*(yes, we are aware this is not the time of his actual birth)